- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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1. Brian St. Pierre, Panthers quarterback. His stock didn’t start off very high because he was out of the league until the Panthers signed him to the practice squad. Then, coach John Fox surprisingly elected to start St. Pierre over rookie Tony Pike. St. Pierre did all right for a while against a good Baltimore defense. But reality set in and he threw two costly interceptions.
2. Pierre Thomas, Saints running back. He’s been sidelined by an ankle injury and it doesn’t sound like he’s anywhere close to returning. Other guys have stepped up in his absence and Thomas doesn’t appear to be in the good graces of the coaching staff. He may be looking for a new team to play for next season.
3. Steve Smith, Panthers wide receiver. You can put most of the blame on horrible quarterback play. But one of the league’s most talented receivers has disappeared this season. Smith has 34 catches for 411 yards. He hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since Week 2 and he is tied for second in the league with six drops.
1. Stylez G. White, Buccaneers defensive end. The Bucs haven’t had much of a pass rush all year, but that changed in Sunday’s 21-0 shutout victory in San Francisco. The Bucs, playing with a lead most of the game, put steady pressure on Troy Smith. No one brought more pressure than White. He finished with 1.5 sacks to bring his season total to 4.5.
2. New Orleans’ scouting department. Once again, the Saints have found some jewels later in the draft and beyond. The latest exhibits are tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Chris Ivory. Graham was playing college basketball two years ago, but he came up with five catches for 72 yards Sunday and has been playing a more prominent role with Jeremy Shockey banged up. Ivory, an undrafted free agent, has held New Orleans’ running game together while Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas have been out with injuries.
3. Michael Jenkins, Falcons wide receiver. After missing the first five games of the season, Jenkins is just hitting full stride. He’s had five catches in each of the past two games. He’s a role player in an offense that has receiver Roddy White, tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner. But Jenkins is an important role player. He makes clutch catches and is a big factor as a blocker in the running game.